This is an ad for Zen, a perfume, and came from a fashion magazine.
The text reads:
The fragrance, the sensation, the emotion.
To begin with, I have to say that this ad is very pretty. The colors are great and it really pops.
I’m a little put off by the model. She looks very Caucasian-made-up-to-look-Asian to me, which always feels creepy and wrong. It’s like blackface, you just can’t do it without it being offensive, no matter how you mean it. Now, maybe she’s Asian and they made her up to look really white, but then I’d have to ask why? This ad is all about the Asian influences and themes, so why make her look more white?
Looking beyond the model and the visuals, I’m not sure what to make of the text. I really wasn’t aware that “zen” was an emotion. What kind of emotion? What does it feel like? How would you describe it or illustrate it? I’m not sure it’s a sensation either, but I can buy that one just a little bit more. My dictionary defines “zen” as “enlightenment, attained through meditation, self-contemplation and intuition rather than through the scriptures, from Zen Buddhism”, which isn’t a sensation, but is closer to one than to an emotion.
Regardless, this leaves me wondering what this perfume smells like. How do you bottle the smell of enlightenment? Or do you just ignore that part and bottle generic Asian smells and steal a religious word for it’s name? Because that’s kind of offensive. What if someone was selling a perfume called something like “Baptism” or “Crucification”? Because it seems like that wouldn’t go over well.
edit: It was pointed out to me in the comments that my definition for “zen” isn’t great. I knew that it wasn’t the best definition, but the intention was more to point out what zen was not than what zen was. Translating a word like that is a bit tricky, from what I understand. But the point is well taken. ”Zen” refers more to the process of searching for enlightenment than the end result of actually having achieved it. I still believe that my comments about it not being an emotion or, really, a scent that can be easily bottled stand, and so I’m not going to actually redo the post. But I do think that it was a fair criticism of my commentary. Thank you for the clarification.